Mac air 13 2015 review

What we have here is the inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.

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For all intents and purposes, it's the same one we last tested in late , except for one important thing: It swaps out the old trackpad in favor of a pressure-sensitive " Force Touch " pad that responds differently depending on how hard you bear down on it. A hard-press on the skip button in QuickTime, for instance, will let you fast-forward at warp speed.

In addition, the new MBP brings all the spec upgrades you'd expect in a system refresh, including faster SSDs, fresh graphics and Intel's latest Core processors. I can't promise you'll love the new touchpad, though. The refreshed Retina display MacBook Pro brings faster performance and longer battery life, along with the same stunning screen and comfortable keyboard. This time around, though, Apple also traded in its already-best-in-class trackpad for a new, pressure-sensitive one. While it's almost as comfortable to use as its predecessor, we're not convinced these new touchpad tricks were worth making the switch.

That said, the inch Retina MBP remains one of the few laptops of this size that offers such long battery life and this kind ofgraphics clout. If you already own a recent MacBook Pro, or have even futzed around an Apple Store, then you know what to expect here. The new MBP, like so many before it, is constructed from a seamless block of machined aluminum, with springy, well-spaced keys and a crisp 2, x 1, display, framed by a thin, barely there bezel.

As before, the machine measures a slim 0. Big whoop. Around the edges, you get the same selection of ports: Oh, and the aluminum lid and chassis are still scratch-prone. With that, I am done talking about the MacBook Pro's hardware.


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Except for the new trackpad, of course. I have plenty more to say about that. For starters: What a risky thing for Apple to do, replacing the touchpad that's already the best in its class. Reviewers like it; users seem to like it. So what's the problem? If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? Except for the fact that the Force Touch pad can do things the Mac regular trackpad can't.

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I already gave the example of pressing down on the skip keys in QuickTime to rewind or fast-forward at 60x speed. But there are other use cases: You can use the "Force Click" in Safari to get Wikipedia previews and word definitions. You can annotate in Mail and Preview. Speaking of Mail, you can Force Click on an address and see it in a pop-up map.

You can also use it in Finder to preview files. And those are just built-in Mac apps; developers can build this feature into third-party apps as well. Before I get into the utility of all this, though, allow me to take a step back and explain how this thing works. Though it's about as spacious as the one on the old model, the new Force Touch pad does away with the old-school "diving board" -- the hinge mechanism that makes it easier to press down on the bottom portion of a touchpad than on the top.

In fact, the trackpad here doesn't have any buttons; there's nothing to depress when you bear down with your finger. Instead, Apple fools you into believing you're clicking something. With the use of a " Taptic Engine " -- a bunch of wires coiled around a magnetic core that provide vibrating haptic feedback to match whatever you're doing onscreen. It's so convincing, in fact, that I would sometimes forget it wasn't a normal trackpad -- until I turned the machine off, anyway, and was left with a stiff piece of glass.

That said, these "button presses" don't feel like using a touchpad on other MacBooks. If you're coming from an older model, as I am, you'll notice the new trackpad feels shallower; even though Apple makes it feel like you're clicking something, your finger isn't "pressing down" as far as it normally would. This was an adjustment for me, but I found a few ways to get past it. First off, I turned on the "tap-to-click" option in the settings, which helped me avoid "clicking" when it initially felt too weird. To be fair, I always have tap-to-click enabled on my own Mac, so this didn't feel like much of a workaround for me.

Secondly, there's also an option in the settings to adjust the click pressure. Moving it from "medium" the default to "light" also helped soften the learning curve. Mostly, though, it just took time. After two days with the Force Touch pad, I was more or less used to it. Heck, if I weren't switching back and forth between the new Pro and my own MacBook Air, I might have adjusted even sooner.

But back to my original question: Was this all worth it? Do the benefits of a pressure-sensitive touchpad outweigh the inconvenience of taking away the one people are used to? I'm not convinced they do.

In Safari, at least, the novelty wore off quickly, particularly since it often took me several tries to get it right. Sure, it's cool to be able to Force Click on a word and be able to see a dictionary definition or a Wikipedia preview, but because I never fully got the hang of the gesture, it was far easier to just open a new browser tab and do a quick Google search. In that respect, the Force Touch pad didn't change my habits.

Same with Finder: When you Force Click on a thumbnail to preview it, the actual "preview" is still small, unless you give it a second, harder press at which point it stretches to a fuller size. I'd still prefer to use a keyboard shortcut: I did enjoy the super-fast fast-forwarding, though. For me, at least, that might be the best and most practical reason to have a pressure-sensitive trackpad.

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Even so, the Force Touch feels like just another nice-to-have feature; I don't mind that it's there, and I ultimately got used to it, but it's also not something I particularly needed. It's certainly not essential on the level of the Retina display, which basically spoiled the lower-res MacBook Air screen for me and many other users. The refreshed MacBook Pro arrives not long after Intel started shipping its fifth-generation Core processors, code-named "Broadwell.

Also not surprising: The performance boost is in many ways a fairly modest one. When Intel first announced these chips, it said we should only expect a 4 percent gain in productivity-oriented tasks.

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So it makes sense, then, that the MacBook Pro's results in general-performance benchmarks are only marginally better than they were a year and a half ago. Armed with a 2. That said, Broadwell promises some bigger gains in graphics -- after all, a whole two-thirds of the die area is dedicated to graphics.

In particular, according to Intel, Broadwell machines should deliver a 22 percent improvement in 3D graphics benchmarks, and up to 50 percent faster video-conversion time. And the new MacBook Pro actually does most Broadwell machines one better: As before, it uses the chip maker's high-end "Iris" solution, instead of the usual Intel HD graphics. For most purposes SSD upgrades , for example , it is suitable to just consider the "Mid" and "Early " lines as one in the same, and the EMC Numbers or Model Identifiers are sufficient for this purpose.

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However, the only way to uniquely identify specific models in these lines are by Order Number which is not available on the computer itself or by Serial Number with EveryMac. It is not clear if it is possible to differentiate between the custom processor option -- the MacBook Air "Core i7" 2. They appeared to be identical when EveryMac.

If you have recently purchased one of these notebooks with a custom processor, please get in touch to help confirm identifiers.


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More information about specific identifiers is provided in EveryMac. The "Early " and "Early " MacBook Air models use different architectures, although these architectures do have some similarities, also. Both lines are quite power efficient, but the smaller Broadwell architecture is even more efficient than its predecessor.

Battery life is a bit better for the Inch "Early " models compared to their predecessors, but it is the same for the Inch models in both lines. The differences between the "Early " and "Early " MacBook Air models -- processors, architectures, graphics processors, battery life, and connectivity -- are summarized below.

Notable similarities are shown as well. The Inch model gains a more advanced architecture, more advanced graphics architecture, improved battery life, and more advanced connectivity:. The Inch model gains a more advanced architecture, more advanced graphics architecture, faster storage, and more advanced connectivity:.

Apple refers to this model as the "MacBook Air Inch, " in some places.

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For pricing details in dozens of other countries, please refer to the MacBook Air specs page for the model of interest as well as EveryMac. Although these improvements are no doubt welcomed, and the "Early " MacBook Air models remain a solid choice as a result, the "Early " MacBook Air models cost less on the used market and remain well worth considering, too. In Australia, site sponsor Mac City likewise has a variety of used MacBook Air models sold at low prices and available with a free warranty and fast shipping across Australia.

Please refer to EveryMac. For complete disclaimer and copyright information please read and understand the Terms of Use and the Privacy Policy before using EveryMac. Use of any content or images without expressed permission is not allowed, although links to any page are welcomed and appreciated. Contact - EveryMac. Hosted by site sponsor MacAce. Internal Differences The "Early " and "Early " MacBook Air models use different architectures, although these architectures do have some similarities, also.